Hiring and Retention

How to interview remote workers

Since the pandemic began last year, the hiring process has veered into uncharted territory. HR teams are now working virtually, from recruiting to onboarding. And there’s a big learning curve. A recent survey of 500 hiring managers found that 56% are new to this process. As many companies prepare to make working away from the office a permanent part of their culture, here’s what you need to know to conduct professional and engaging remote interviews—and figure out who to hire. 

Accept the pros and cons 

Interviewing by phone and video chat will never be the same as meeting in person. It can be harder to establish a rapport with a candidate, plus there are technical difficulties, unforeseen interruptions, and a host of other nuisances. But there are benefits too. The virtual process saves interviewers and candidates time, streamlines the process, and offers more flexibility, which comes in handy if your company needs to fill a position quickly. 

Prepare as usual 

Just because interviews have gone virtual doesn’t mean you don’t need to be organized. Familiarize yourself with candidates’ work histories and have a clear list of questions to get them talking about relevant experience. Know what skills you’re looking for, and anticipate what questions they’ll have for you. 

Test your tech 

The more you use the technology, the more at ease you’ll be. Before an interview, make sure your microphone and headphones work. Choose a quiet area and a simple background. Position yourself so that a light source is behind your computer, and look straight ahead on camera. Finally, take some time before the call to learn the basics of the platform—especially how to turn the sound and video on and off, and how to change your background. Doing so can help you avoid potential embarrassment. 

Be on time 

You wouldn’t arrive late to an in-person interview, would you? The same goes for the virtual world. Join the meeting a few minutes early so you can welcome the candidate. It shows you take them and the job they’re applying for seriously. 

Take a moment 

When the interview begins, spend a few minutes getting to know the candidate. Chat about anything—like where they’re calling from or the weather. You can even acknowledge how strange it is to go through the hiring process virtually. It will help the candidate—and you—feel more at ease. 

Project your company’s culture 

It’s tricky to convey company culture when every aspect of work—including the hiring process—is now remote. Last year, you may have played up perks like free breakfast and professional development opportunities. These days, candidates may be more interested in learning about benefits, communication strategies, and how the company is adapting to develop culture remotely.  

Look for warning signs 

The interview is like a mini training ground. Is the candidate at ease on video? Do they seem engaged? Look for people who have experience collaborating with others online and working with Slack®, Zoom™, and other feature-rich platforms. Also pay attention to their surroundings: A little clutter isn’t an issue, but utter disorganization might be. 

Take interruptions in stride 

Pets make noise. Babies cry. Life goes on in a pandemic when people work and interview from home. So if a roommate or child barges in—on you or the candidate you’re interviewing—go with it. Everyone is doing the best they can.